In Edge of Darkness, Mel Gibson plays Boston detective Tommy Craven,hardly cowardly, who craves for revenge of his murdered daughter, Emma(Bojana Novakovic). We are warned that nothing is as it appears, andthat is true here except that the trailers and the trail of clich?devents lead to some easily-guessed outcomes.
Based on a British TV serial and book, this by-the-numbers thrillertries to satisfy the non-revenge motif intellectuals with commentary onpolitical chicanery and nuclear espionage but ends up being revengefilm most of all. It is not even close to the iconic status of DeathWish nor even a danger to the popularity of the recent Taken, starringLiam Neeson.
But the popular Mr. Gibson gave me pause: I tried not to think that thevery Catholic Mr. Gibson has left a bloody trail in motion pictures,The Passion of the Christ and Apocalypto to name two and of course theLethal Weapon franchise. He's bloody once again, and little else is ofsuspenseful satisfaction either, right down to an slick Danny Hustonplaying Bennett, the head of a big corporation that deals in nuclearmaterial and for whom Emma once worked. Now you know where the plotgoes and whether or not Bennett is a sympathetic character. But Hustonis a delight to watch: intelligent, elegant, ironic, and verydangerous.
The film is saved from my damnation at "D" because of a couple of smallscenes between Tommy and mysterious assassin Jedburgh, played with theright detachment and insight by Ray Winstone. Gibson comes alive as anactor when he is interacting with this fine colleague.
The shots of Boston Harbor are sweet, and the scenes in working classsections have a Mystic River feel. Nothing else in the film is remotelylike Clint Eastwood's masterpiece.
Edge of Darkness heralds the return of Mel Gibson back to the front ofthe camera, and it's been 8 years since he last left a starring rolefor the director's chair, having to make films like Passion of theChrist, and Apocalypto. I would have hoped he might have taught MartinCampbell a thing or two about how to deliver a film that can hold anaudience's interest, because Edge of Darkness is just so boring, thatyou'll find tracing the lines on Mel's face a lot more interesting thanto tune in to a bunch of characters that you couldn't care less about.
Mel Gibson stars as Thomas Craven, a lowly Boston detective whosedaughter Emma (Bojana Novakovic) comes to visit during her break fromwork. In the span of 5 minutes we learn that she's pretty, extremelysmart, and as a nuclear scientist / research assistant who seemed to bepoison in spy versus spy fashion, Thomas commits a Gerard Butler'sClyde Shelton in Law Abiding Citizen, where opening the front doornowadays means death. Daddy's little girl got dispatched in brutalfashion, and this makes daddy angry. Except that Thomas spends most ofthe time walking wounded emotionally and hallucinating, trying to piecetogether disparate clues in order to find the bastards responsible forhis daughter's demise.
Also based on a British television series, this is no State of Play,which also got itself transplanted across the Atlantic into a bigbudgeted Hollywood film, where one would expect thrills, spills andplenty of twists and turns. Unfortunately, Edge of Darkness is not thatkind of film, as the narrative is pretty flat with everyone behavingsuspiciously or afraid of the shadowy powers that be, as represented byRay Winstone's Jedburgh, a Michael Clayton type consultant who adviseshis clients just how to get out of the mess they're in, involvingnuclear weapons, terrorism, treason, profits, and corrupt governmentofficials, corporate bigwigs and activists.
But seriously, what it became was plenty of shadow play, of punching inthe dark, of empty threats of who is in possession of a bigger member.It came to the point of the ridiculous with everyone verbally posturingjust where they should be, you-never-seen-me-here, or we-never-had-this-conversation, that it becomes the unintentional comedy.The absurdness continues when you know Campbell lacks inspiration todirect a lacklustre William Monahan and Andrew Bovell screenplay, wherethe bad guys all get dealt with in one fell swoop, with again, comedystemming from stupidity. The conspiracy theory is so full of hocuspocus that will leave you wondering why a simple whistle-blower story,can be told in such an uninteresting manner, with neither a humanemotional angle to reel you in, nor with any intelligence tomulti-layer it.
Worse of all, it then decided to go the Taken route, which was alsoabout a father's relentless, no nonsense search for his daughter. Herethe criticality of time is removed, and Thomas just goes about doinghis own thing in piecing clues together, and toed the law as comparedto Liam Neeson's Bryan Mills who chose to operate outside the system.It was too little too late, and made you wonder just how this couldhave been summarized into a short film instead. Actors were all goingthrough the motions with nobody showing any emotional depth that makeyou feel for them, and for some reason everyone adopts the Bale-Batmanlow baritone gruff voice when speaking to one another. And boy, do theyjust talk and talk a lot!
In trying to be smart, Edge of Darkness falls flat on its hype andexposed its lack of intelligence and wit. It's amazing just how anyonecan make a boring film, and this one is testament that it's verypossible. Like one of the characters uttered in a self-fulfillingprophecy of the film itself, with a convoluted plot come a situationwhere there are no facts. Well the truth is it's also a situation wherethere's no substance either. Watching paint dry